I know, I know, I’m a self proclaimed feminist parenting blogger, so can I really have a problem with feminism? Well, yes, and I’ll tell you why.
I commented on a post about feminism the other day, and I said something like “feminism is great, but it’s radfems that spoil it for the rest of us and give feminism a bad name”. I viewed ‘radfems’ (radical feminists) as being those that hate men and stomp all over other women weilding their own radical ideas of what women should be.
Then, literally a few hours later, I was reading another excellent post about feminist issues that I agreed with wholeheartedly. I looked the author up on Twitter because I saw myself becoming a bit of a fangirl, and lo and behold, she describes herself as a radfem.
So am I allowed to like her? She didn’t seem that unreasonable in her post. Maybe I don’t know what radfem means?
So I looked it up.
What’s a Radfem anyway?
Wikipedia tells me that ‘radical’ in radical feminism means ‘root’. It also says that the core belief of radical feminism is that we live in a patriarchal society and this must end to bring equality of gender. (To put it super simply).
Thoughtco also specifies that radical feminism opposes patriarchy, not men. Radfems therefore are not (necessarily) ‘man-haters’, but do believe in ‘smashing the patriarchy’ (which as it happens, is super fun to say… SMASH THE PATRIARCHY! Woop!)
This highlights one problem with feminism… The definitions are confused, even feminists don’t know what feminism means.
My version of feminism
I’ve never done a women’s studies degree, or module, or even read a book about it. My knowledge of the history of feminism is sketchy at best, drawn from news, hearsay and films. Does that make me a bad feminist? I don’t think so.
I have my own definition of feminism, and that is a desire for true equality for all sexes, and a commitment to fighting for that. I might not join protests on the regs or fiercely debate feminist issues at every opportunity. That’s not me. I will give my opinion when I feel it’s needed, I will write and share blog posts to empower women and promote equality. I will teach my daughter to view everyone equally and try to give her a well rounded view of women. I will support all women in making their own decisions and do my best not to judge when their views oppose mine.
Because that’s the core of what it’s about… It’s about everyone being free to make up their own mind without conscious or subconscious influence or gender bias.
The problem with feminism
The problem with feminism is that we’ve all got our wires crossed. It sometimes feels like you can’t call yourself a feminist unless you know what you’re talking about. There are so many wonderful, eloquent feminists out there who have their ideas about feminism figured out. Some of them I agree with, some of them make me feel a bit awkward.
Why are you afraid to label yourself a feminist?
You tell someone you’re a feminist, and they’ll either woop or roll their eyes. It’s scary giving yourself a label and feeling the pressure to live up to it.
Can you be a feminist and still wear make up? Can you be a feminist and still shave your armpits? Can you be a feminist and still rely on your husband to do the DIY? Can you be a feminist and not know the meaning of radical feminism?
A resounding yes to all of the above.
You can also be a feminist and do the opposite of all those things. You can be a feminist and not even think about those things being an issue.
Emma Watson once said “If you believe in equality, you’re a feminist. Sorry to tell you.”
It’s THAT simple.
The problem with feminism is we’ve over complicated it.
I thought about the everyday things I do that I consider to be feminist actions…
- I choose not to wear make up most days because I like my face without it (and can’t be bothered – probably more that one tbh)
- I choose to wear make up some days because I like the way my face looks with it on.
- I choose not to remove my body hair because it’s not important to me (and for a host of other reasons).
- I let my daughter choose her own clothes each day, and when we go shopping, because I want her to learn to pay attention to herself and her own preferences while she’s still young.
- I share household tasks and admin with my husband depending on whose skill set best fits the task, or who has the time to spare.
- I choose clothes to match how I am feeling on a given day.
- I write blog posts about equality and feminism.
- I correct my daughter if she intimates that she or another child can’t play with a toy because of their gender.
- I choose to have long hair because I prefer the way it looks.
- I sometimes choose to cut my hair short just to make sure I don’t prefer it that way.
A recurring theme there is choice. Choosing based on your own preferences, your own skills, your own beliefs are all feminist actions (in my book). Being forced or coerced to choose because of other people’s or society’s opinions is what feminism is here to stop.
The problem with feminism is we all need to own it more. We don’t need to have a perfectly packaged idea of what feminism was and is and could be. If we wait for that to form, we’ll be waiting a long time. We just need to own it for ourselves, and act like we joint-own the joint. We need to acknowledge other women’s right to have differing views and celebrate the fact that that disagreement is a sign that we can all think for ourselves.
Your brand of feminism is just as valid as mine, and Emma Watson’s, and Germain Greer’s, and Deborah Francis-White’s.